While some American farmers have been forced to dump milk or plow under crops due to loss of markets during the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers of community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are thriving.
A reporter contacted Judith Redmond, a founding partner of the 450-acre, organic Full Belly Farm, wanting to see produce rotting in the fields. But Redmond, whose farm is in the Capay Valley northwest of Sacramento, couldn’t help the reporter.
“I said, ‘Well, actually, that’s not what’s happening in the Capay Valley.’ ”
Redmond is busier than ever trying to ramp up production to meet the soaring demand for her produce.
CSA programs are booming nationwide amid the pandemic. In a CSA, members buy a share of a farm’s harvest, which is often organic, and the produce is then delivered weekly in a box. CSA programs everywhere report an increase in memberships that is so strong that there are waiting lists of people wanting to join the programs.
“The interest in getting local, fresh, organic produce just has skyrocketed during this crisis,” Redmond said.
Redmond says her farm has doubled its CSA box numbers and quadrupled other items like wheat flour, oils like olive oil, nuts, and fruit juices.
Evan Wiig of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, which supports and lobbies on behalf of CSAs across California, said the interest in CSAs is unprecedented.
“In all the time that we’ve worked with CSAs, which is several decades, we’ve never seen a surge as quickly as we have of the last few weeks.”
On the east coast, Sara Voiland, who with her husband, Ryan, run the organic CSA Red Fire Farm, in the Connecticut River Valley, said “People don’t want that many hands on their food right now. And we can offer that.”
A CSA’s focus on local and fresh helps allay people’s fears about germs on produce as crops go from the field to consumers’ kitchens.
“The supply chain with CSA is very short. It’s like, we harvest the produce and you come pick it up at a local site,” Voiland said.
CSAs still represent a very small part of America’s $100 billion farm economy. But their renaissance marks a rare bit of good economic news for an agriculture industry battered by trade wars, threatened by climate change, and now facing a global pandemic.
Source: National Public Radio
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